Review into Sheffield shops verdict ‘up for grabs’

Hopes remain high of securing a full judicial review into the controversial decision to demolish shops on Devonshire Street in Sheffield city centre ahead of an auction to boost the campaign fund.

Some of the city’s leading artists, including Pete McKee and Chris Saunders, have donated works which will go under the hammer tomorrow (Friday) from 7pm at Theatre Delicatessen on The Moor.

The auction - called Going Once, Going Twice, Gone! - follows on from a fundraising gig this week at The Harley on Glossop Road.

Nick Roscoe, of the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society, said the judicial review papers had been lodged and that the prospect of having Sheffield Council’s verdict overturned was ‘definitely up for grabs’.

“We’re trying to get a decision based on the papers - if that’s successful, it means we’ve got permission for a judicial review, if not then it will go to a hearing,” said Nick.

He said any review would hinge on the effect demolishing and replacing the retail units - including the Rare and Racy bookshop, the Natural Bed Company and clothes boutique Syd and Mallory - would have on the setting of the nearby former Wharncliffe Fireclay Works, a listed building now home to gift shop Within Reason.

“That’s something taken very seriously in national policy,” said Nick. “The application could have been turned down on that basis alone.”

Campaigners also believe English Heritage was not properly consulted.

However, the council will defend its decision to approve the plans, which involve replacing the buildings with more shops and apartments.

The authority says its hands were tied by national guidelines and that strength of feeling over the potential loss of the businesses was not a valid reason for refusal.

Nearly 20,000 people opposed the proposals through petitions and written representations.

Nick said campaigners had raised about half of the initial £15,000 sum needed to cover liabilities, adding: “If we get permission it will become more challenging and we’ll have to raise more money - we’ll be talking another £20,000. But hopefully then it will be widely known that the judge has said we have a case.”

n Visit www.savedevstreet.org.uk for more information.